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Are We Free?Psychology and Free Will$
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John Baer, James C. Kaufman, and Roy F. Baumeister

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189636

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189636.001.0001

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Free Will Requires Determinism

Free Will Requires Determinism

(p.304) 16 Free Will Requires Determinism
Are We Free?

John Baer

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes that the only kind of free will that is coherent is deterministic free will, and makes an argument for what philosophers call compatibilism. To the extent that the universe is not deterministic, such as at the level of quantum events, free will is simply impossible, because actions or events that are random cannot be willed or caused by anyone. But in a largely deterministic universe, free will means that a person's thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, hopes, goals, desires, and skills matter, and that these personal attributes can and do cause that person to act as he does. The fact that those personal attributes may themselves be determined by prior events does not change the fact that who the person is plays a large role in the decisions he makes and the actions he takes. Determinism makes free will (and psychology) possible.

Keywords:   compatibilism, beliefs, personal attributes, quantum events, random

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